New Beginnings

posted on Friday, October 5, 2018

“We’re all starting to miss pigs,” said Adam Swalla, who for the last four weeks has been working towards this big day—celebrating the completion of Smyrna Sow Farm. Adam and the newly formed Sow 38 team are ready to go.

Adam Swalla, Smyrna Sow Farm Manager

On October 10, the farm will come alive as new gilts start filing in. By October 14, the first litter should arrive. While Adam has seen his fair share of piglets, this litter marks a brand new chapter in his life.

In 2006, Adam joined Iowa Select Farms as an intern. After graduating from Ellsworth Community College with a degree in swine management, he joined Iowa Select Farms in 2010.

Swalla Family

It wasn’t long before he made his first major contribution, leading a team of 12 through a depop/repop at Sow 112. “The farm had a tough history, and Adam and his crew worked hard to get the farm to turn a corner,” said Dan Dean, Director of Sow Production. “He put a lot of himself into developing the team and showing everyone what was possible. That farm was one of the first in our history to hit a 12 weaned pig average for an extended period of time.”

A few years later, another challenge was ready for Adam. He said “yes” to again leading a depop/repop at Arends Sow Farm (Sow 14), this time paired with a full farm remodel. “He is a steady, proven leader through these tougher jobs and keeps everyone positive,” said Dean.

Director of Sow Production, Dan Dean

But it was the timeperiod after the repop that was most impressive. “What Adam and his team did was show everyone what the sow was capable of. They had remarkable results,” said Dean. “It was fun and rewarding to watch what he was able to do at that farm. His team was consistently hitting one of the highest farrowing rates at 92, 93 percent, which then set the farm up for success.”

“That’s exactly what we most appreciate about Adam—he challenges all of us,” said Dean. “He’s one of our managers who shows us what is possible. He has this eagerness to get people engaged and as excited pigs as he is. He’s a tremendous leader.”

Today Adam begins yet another chapter— his third farm start-up. This time at Smyrna, a new 7,500 sow farm located near Woodburn in eastern Clarke County. The farm will eventually wean 210,000 pigs a year.

“This both exciting and terrifying,” said Swalla, who had the honor of cutting the ribbon. “It’s a completely new experience that without a doubt will push all of us.”

Cutting the Ribbon on Smyrna Sow Farm

Adam is most excited about his team. “It’s high energy here and with a lot of positivity,” said Adam. “They are looking forward to getting pigs in this door even more than I am, and that says a lot. There’s so much potential here, we can all feel it.”

While focusing on his team, he is also learning the technology. From positive-pressure ventilation controls to feed lines, nearly everything on the farm is computerized. “A lot of time and energy can go into fixing those things.

Now I can go to my computer, see what is happening and make adjustments,” he said. “It means fewer interruptions in the day and more focus on pig care, which is what we all want to do.”

The open house was an opportunity for Adam to bring his family to a sow farm, something that he’s never been able to do in the nine years that he and his wife Sarah have been together. “Having my wife and kids here was really, really special for me,” said Adam. “Not only because they finally get to see where I work, but because this farm also represents a completely new life for them.”

Bird's Eye View of Smyrna Sow Farm

Adam and his wife, Sarah, along with their three young children recently moved from Madrid down to southern Iowa. Adam and Sarah had the opportunity to buy Sarah’s grandmother’s home. “It’s the home Sarah’s dad grew up in and now our kids will, too,” said Swalla. “We’ve been lucky to have family nearby willing to help us out. We can’t wait to be settled into our new home and community. We couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter in our lives.” Congratulations Swalla Family! #HomegrownIowa